Harry Edward Styles was born 1 February 1994 and is an English singer, songwriter and actor.
His musical career began in 2010 as a solo contestant on the British music competition series The X Factor. Following his elimination early on, he was brought back to join the boy band One Direction, which went on to become one of the best-selling boy bands of all time.
He was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, the son of Anne Cox (née Selley) and finance worker Desmond “Des” Styles. When he was a child, he moved with his parents and older sister Gemma to Holmes Chapel, Cheshire. His parents divorced when he was seven and his mother later was remarried to Robin Twist, who died of cancer in 2017. Styles has an older stepbrother named Mike and a stepsister named Amy, children of Twist. Styles said he had a “great childhood” and was always supported by his parents. As a child, he recorded covers on a karaoke machine he was given by his grandad, and the first song he recorded was Elvis Presley’s “The Girl of My Best Friend”. Styles attended Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School. While at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive, he was the lead singer for the band White Eskimo, which won a local Battle of the Bands competition. At the age of 16, he worked part-time at the W. Mandeville Bakery in Holmes Chapel.
Following a suggestion from his mother, on 11 April 2010, Styles auditioned as a solo contestant for the seventh series of the British televised singing competition The X Factor, singing a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”. He advanced to bootcamp, but failed to progress to the “Boys” category at “judges’ houses”. Four others in his age group also failed, but they were put together as an ensemble in July 2010, during the “bootcamp” stage of the competition, thus qualifying for the “Groups” category mentored by Simon Cowell. The group consisting of Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik, got together for two weeks to practise. Styles said he had suggested the name One Direction to his bandmates and they agreed to keep it. Within the first four weeks of the live shows, they were Cowell’s last act in the competition, and they quickly gained popularity in the UK. The group eventually reached The X Factor final, and finished in third place.
In February 2016, Styles left One Direction’s management company, Modest Management, and joined Jeffrey Azoff’s Full Stop Management. Styles launched his own record label, Erskine Records, in May and signed a recording contract with Columbia Records as a solo artist in June.
Recording for Styles’ debut album took place throughout 2016 in Los Angeles, London, and Port Antonio, Jamaica, where Styles and his collaborators had a two-month writing retreat in the autumn. In March 2017, Styles announced that his first solo single, “Sign of the Times”, would be released on 7 April.
Styles made his film debut in Christopher Nolan’s war film Dunkirk, in July 2017, playing a British soldier named Alex who is a part of the Dunkirk evacuation in World War II. Styles beat out “thousands of young men” for the part; Nolan later stated he was unaware of the extent of his fame and that Styles was cast “because he fit the part wonderfully and truly earned a seat at the table.”
In 2018, Styles began modeling for the Italian fashion house Gucci, appearing in several campaigns for the brand.
Styles’ musical style has been described as soft rock, pop, folk, rock, and Britpop. His debut album was influenced by the music he grew up listening to, such as Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac, as well as the songwriting of Harry Nilsson. He has also cited Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley, and Paul McCartney as influences, while mentioning Shania Twain as his main inspiration both musically and in fashion.
Styles’ sexuality has long been a subject of speculation. In 2017, he said that he did not feel any need to label [his] sexuality or identify with one sexual orientation.
In 2013, Styles and fellow One Direction member Liam Payne became ambassadors for the cancer charity Trekstock, and raised more than $800,000 through the online fundraising platform Prizeo. In 2015, Styles sponsored water wells in India via Drop4Drop in support of Life Water’s World Water Day campaign. The following year, he donated his hair to the UK charity Little Princess Trust, which supplies and funds wigs made of real hair to children who have hair loss as a result of illnesses. In May 2017, to celebrate the release of his debut album, he played intimate shows at The Garage in London and at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, with all proceeds benefiting charities. That October, he performed alongside other artists at CBS Radio’s We Can Survive concert at the Hollywood Bowl for breast cancer awareness. Styles’ first tour raised $1.2 million in charity donations from ticket sales, Live Nation’s contributions, and GLSEN’s Pride campaign toward 62 charities around the world. It also promoted water conservation via recycling and reducing plastic water bottle usage.
Styles has shown support for the LGBT community by waving the rainbow flag on stage, wearing LGBT-themed clothing and supporting LGBT fans in concerts. In 2018, his online store sold t-shirts with the slogan “Treat People With Kindness” in a rainbow print for Pride Month, with profits benefiting GLSEN. Styles has also added “Black Lives Matter” and “End Gun Violence” stickers to his guitar in 2018, and tweeted in support of the March for Our Lives petition and actress Emma Watson’s HeForShe gender equality campaign.
In light of the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, Styles posted support for the Black Lives Matter movement, encouraging fans to share and donate in support. He attended a Los Angeles Black Lives Matter protest the following month.
“Treat People with Kindness”, also abbreviated to “TPWK”, is a slogan used by Styles to promote his message of love, acceptance and kindness to people. Styles started using the slogan on his debut concert tour in 2017, on a badge on his guitar and on tour merchandise, including Pride t-shirts sold to raise funds for GLSEN.
In October 2019, teaser posters including the phrase “Do you know who you are?” and the acronym “TPWK” were spotted in London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York and Australia, which fans were able to connect to Styles and his new album release due to the reference to his “Treat People with Kindness” motto. At the same time to mark World Mental Health Day, Styles launched a website bot called “Do You Know Who You Are?” that gives users positive randomized messages using words such as bright, determined, loving and wonderful, and ending with “TPWK. LOVE, H”.